Memphis basketball earned some air time on ESPN’s College Gameday Saturday, but not without receiving comments from the show’s host, Rece Davis, that many fans perceived as a shot at Memphis coach Penny Hardaway.
Davis, who was making a reference to Hardaway’s comment last week that other college coaches were jealous of his NBA pedigree, flipped the script on the Tigers’ coach.
“You know what else?” Davis said. “Penny is jealous of people who were better than him in the NBA. And Penny’s probably jealous of other coaches around the country who have a bigger budget, a better plane, a better practice facility. Because, as the great American philosopher Jerry Seinfeld once said, ‘Oh, I’m jealous of everybody.’ Everybody is jealous of everybody, Penny. So here’s an idea: Win some more games, keep recruiting, and make them even more jealous.”
After a video of the comments surfaced online, it led to Tigers graduate assistant Derek Malloy responding to Davis, pointing to Hardaway’s NBA success and the team’s practice facility.
Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen also responded to Davis’ soliloquy on Sports 56’s Wolo and Peter Show in the morning show Monday.
“I think everything is going to be, kind of, these next steps with coach Hardaway’s ability to be a very good young, rising coach in Division I,” Bowen said. “To have kind of a different path than most coaches to become a head coach at a major Division I program – I think that’s obviously been stated over and over again. I think what you’re seeing is the development of this program in a trajectory that is quite direct and quite straight. So I think you have some commentators, I think you have some people that are always going to put in their thought. I didn’t take pause with it because, at the end of the day, that’s going to continue. I don’t think it’s going to stop with Rece Davis’ comments. I was kind of shocked that he said something, but at the end of the day, there are people that continue to say it both in print, on the radio and on social media.”
Davis, however, felt like the Memphis faithful missed the point of his comments from the start.
The ESPN host issued a statement by text message Monday morning:
“All I meant, was it’s the human condition, unfortunately, that everyone is jealous of everyone. That’s why I used the Seinfeld quote. Penny’s remark got a lot of play. I was responding to it in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion. What seemed to be overlooked was that I said Penny was right. They ARE jealous of the NBA resume’. And I said win even more games and make them more jealous. I’m sure Penny is facing stuff on the recruiting trail that’s annoying. But the idea from my viewpoint was that everybody does. Keep doing your thing.
Hopefully, he will and we will get Gameday back there someday. I’m jealous of people who can go to Rendezvous or Gus’s any time they want to.”